Mo With Chin and Cheek, Santa Only Scrubble, or Clean Jack Frost

To keep or not to keep? That is the question (bro and sis have the answer)

Rahman Mohamed

As we enter the last weekend of Movember you probably saw Mo on Bro.  What began as a campaign to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer has grown into one encouraging men to be open about health difficulties including Mental Health to break stigma and to not view health as an attack on masculinity.

Movember rules are based on starting the month clean shaven.  A Bro can trim or fashion a Mo throughout the month but it’s not supposed to be shaved off the month or be part of other facial hair; other facial hair can be there but just not part of the Mo.  What kind of facial hair to ladies really like?  Unsurprisingly some have studied it.

Unsurprisingly, like many different parts of a man’s life, facial hair has a link to genetics. Not only that, to any Bro who is married, ladies had strong influence on genetics and the facial hair, the decision. Published 2016 in Journal Evolutionary Biology, “The masculinity paradox: facial masculinity and beardedness interact to determine women’s ratings of men’s facial attractiveness” shows many studies of the perspective of masculinity (what it means to be a man) and facial hair.

Before any of the studies, evolution did exist (theoretically). It’s suggested

Facial shape and beardedness represent two of the most striking sexual dimorphisms expressed by humans

Dixson et. al, 2016

The most masculine physically were those with an enlarged brow ridge, thicker jawline, and longer face. A man’s beard starts growing in puberty and is fully grown when one is an adult; the beard made someone look grown up. Masculine were looked to be physically stronger and have better long-term health – a great choice for a woman in the evolution era. Some experiments based on facial hair and/or shape have suggested different elements of masculinity recently; the man’s age, sexual mature, socially dominant, and more aggressive than the clean shaven. Studies by D. R. Wood (1986) and Knussman and Christiansen (1988) found that men have higher feelings of being masculine and higher testosterone levels; the bearded also endorse more masculine gender roles than than the clean-shaven in a study by Oldmeadow & Dixson (2016). Unsurprisingly the lady today won’t always choose one or the other (when does a woman pick the same guy twice).

Another study by Dixson and Rantala, “The Role of Facial and Body Hair Distribution in Women’s Judgement of Men’s Sexual Attractiveness” published in Archives of Sexual Behaviour looked at hair on the face, the body, and the menstrual cycle of the woman giving the rating. 20 European men with brown hair were photographed clean shaven, 5 days growth, 10 days growth, and 4 weeks (full beard). Heavy facial hair: everywhere; medium: some bare areas on the lips and cheeks; light: less under the lower lip, more patchy, and not connecting; very light: less hair all over the face.

An example of the facial hair stimuli used in this study. Images show one individual from each of the four categories of facial hair distribution (very light, light, medium, and heavy) in front and profile views with 10 days of natural beard growth and when clean shaven (Dixson and Rantala, 2015).
An example of the body hair stimuli used in this study. Images show one individual from each of the four categories of body hair distribution (very light, light, medium, and heavy) in front view with natural distribution of body hair and when clean shaven.

Almost 4000 women participated in the ranking. The ranks weren’t just looked at by age; where a woman was in here cycle, whether she was pregnant, whether she was in a relationship, and if she said, her ethnicity, were used. Across the board, the clean-shaven was chosen least; the light facial was most attractive, more than very light, medium, or full. Medium came next. Surprising researchers there was no effect of a woman’s fertility (the cycle) and facial hair in choice; they thought that women would more likely choose the more masculine aka the more hairy depending on the time in the cycle.

The more chest hair, the higher the man’s age (according to the women ratings in the research). It was also found that facial hair less uniformly distributed was less attractive (some places long, some short, not the clean mowed level). The beard got higher ratings for growing on the healthy man than the stubble.

Some studies have shown that the bearded are more attractive while others have shown the clean-shaven more attractive; some show no difference. One theory is what accompanies the bearded masculine man; he’s seen as someone who’s less warm, caring, and romantic, and someone who’s more interested in a short-term instead of long-term relation. At the same time the more masculine means securing indirectly better genetic benefits, a better long-term survival of the species. In terms of facial hair it has been shown that the intermediate level is often better than the clean-shaven or full (academic way of saying the styled look).

Research shows the masculinity and social status of a man is seen higher when he has facial hair. In a study Dixson (2016) examined how attractive men were based on facial masculinity and the beard. Men of European descent (most under 30) were photographed clean-shaven, after 5-days of growth, after 10-days, and having a full beard (less than a month). Graphics were used for the changes in facial masculinity – narrower eyes, thicker and straighter brows, thicker nasal bridge, narrow nostrils, less pronounced cheekbone, narrower mouth, and a larger, squarer jaw and chin. Facial feminization was done by doing the opposite. Women rated the faces for general, short-term, or long-term attractiveness.

(Dixson, B.J.W., 2016)

Almost 10,000 people participated in this study. Results found the unmanipulated faces (listening to mom and not using graphics) were more attractive than 25% of the others (masculinized or feminized). Unfortunately facial hair didn’t do much in changing facial shape but men with the masculine look did rank higher (bros have to live with what they have). Heavy stubble was found most attractive while the clean-shaven the least. The stubble faces were more preferred for the short-term relationship. While the clean-shaven did rank lowest it was still found an attractive one. Researchers suggest that evolution made humans like the full beard more today for a long-term relation because it suggests social dominance, someone who will stay long and have parental involvement. Researchers do state that

beards may be more attractive to women when considering long-term than short-term relationships as they indicate a male’s ability to successfully compete socially with other males for resources.

Dixson et al, 2016

An earlier study published in Personality and Individual Differences found similar. Nick Neave and Kerry Shields began “The effects of facial hair manipulation on female perceptions of attractiveness, masculinity, and dominance in male faces” (2008) stating

Darwin referred to intersexual selection as ‘female choice’, because in
many species females are more selective in their mate choices than

Under 100 female UK undergraduate students, average age 21, participated in the Neave and Shields study. They were asked to rank each for attractiveness and masculinity traits. The stubble boys won the attractiveness round

Graphics and online responses were gathered by the Dixson team but Neave and Shields used artificial faces and gathered responses in person.

These studies used an evolutionary standpoint but do state that social and cultural dynamics play a role in men and women’s view of facial hair and should be explored. It might keep someone warm in Canada and popular in USA during a playoff run but is South Africa a place where the clean shaven is more popular than the thick? Are politicians with facial hair cool? What about the actors and pop stars? How popular are pros with Mos? Study suggests facial might be more female desired when it’s low (not popular or not a lot of men). The question today: how popular is the clean shaven Santa?


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